As many print products lose readers to online, the question remains: how can web properties make enough money to produce the same quality content that their print revenues allowed for?
For whatever reason, display ads don’t command the same prices online as they have in print, and web readers are used to having everything available instantly, and for free. But can this last?
A recent article in the New Yorker by James Surowiecki discusses this problem, specifically as it applies to newspapers. A few of his key points:
• Define your business. Do you create magazines, or do you create content? Says Surowiecki: “Many argue that if newspapers had understood they were in the information business, rather than the print business, they would have adapted more quickly and more successfully to the Net.”
• Consider alternative revenue models. “There are many possible futures one can imagine for [newspapers], from becoming foundation-run nonprofits to relying on reader donations to that old standby the deep-pocketed patron.”
• Remember that nothing’s really free. “For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime—intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on—and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can’t last. Soon enough, we’re going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.”